Most of us have heard the phrases, “spirit of the law” and “letter of the law.” Simply put, the spirit of the law is that which the law means while the letter of the law is that which the law says.
Many people have been innocent of breaking the spirit of the law while not breaking the letter of the law and vice-versa.
The differences can be used to encourage new and more meaningful laws and it can be used to exploit the standing laws.
As it applies to the concealed carry conversation, I’ve spoken with a lot of people who try to use the letter of the law to avoid compliance with the spirit of the law. They are looking for ways to do what they want without actually breaking the law. The most prolific of these non-infraction infractions seems to be in the area of signage and the compliance thereof.
The law in Kansas regarding signage is this…
(1) The signs be posted at all exterior entrances to the prohibited buildings;
(2) they be posted at eye level of adults using the entrance and not more than 12 inches to the right or left of such entrance;
(3) the signs not be obstructed or altered in any way; and
(4) signs which become illegible for any reason be immediately replaced.
(b) The size of the sign shall be eight inches by eight inches or larger. If the sign is eight inches by eight inches, the size of the graphic … shall be six inches in diameter. If the sign is larger than eight inches by eight inches, the size of the graphic shall be proportional to the size of the sign.
(c) Each sign shall meet all of the following requirements:
(1) The background shall be white.
(2) The portion of the graphic depicting the handgun shall be black.
(3) The portion of the graphic depicting the circle and diagonal slash across the handgun shall be red.
(4) No text shall be placed within the one-inch area surrounding the graphic.
So when you see a sign like this…
…are you obligated to comply? Legally, no. But are the intentions of the business made clear by the sign should you notice it? Yes.
If you didn’t see it, it’s in the lower-right corner of the photo.
The laws regarding signage are very specific and they are in place to create a recognizable standard, clearly indicating the desires of Kansas business owners to the public.
While I believe that, in most cases, CCH prohibition is detrimental to the safety and security of business owners, their employees, and their customers, I also believe that it is the duty of responsible CCH licensees to respect and obey the law. Only by our respect of and obedience to the law will our words have any weight. We can’t very well say that signs don’t matter to law-breakers if we become law-breakers ourselves in order to prove a point.
Having worked in the building pictured above, I tell you with certainty that there are a lot of people who walk through those doors with concealed .380’s in their baggy pants pockets. They’re not discreet, they’re not safe, and I imagine they don’t really care what the desires of the owners and operators of this (or any) establishment are.
But for those of us who wish to be an asset to the concealed carry and 2nd Amendment conversations, I contend that we need to be very diligent about adhering to the law and respecting the desires of business owners… even if we may be within our legal rights to disregard them. It’s obvious that we are under no obligation or compulsion to support these establishments with our hard-earned dollars. But visiting a posted establishment – on their terms and with all the respect due them – can be very helpful if you wish to have a conversation with the owner about his or her desire to keep legal guns out of their buildings.
More than once, I have been able to engage a business owner/operator in a friendly and respectful conversation about concealed carry handguns which resulted in them taking down the signs and welcoming CCH licensees and their handguns into their establishments. I imagine that, if I had disregarded their wishes, the conversations would have ended differently.
CCH licensees here in Kansas have a committed group of lawmakers fighting for us. Let’s do them the courtesy of not making their jobs any harder than they already are. Let us not only cling to our 2nd Amendment rights, but also our honor and integrity by following not just the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law as well.